Samantha Emmons’ work on display is a beautiful visual experience. She has captured and enhanced the living essence of nature using its elements of earth, fire and water as inspiration. The microscopic world in a Petri-dish, marble, magma, life within the ocean. The viewer is drawn into these living worlds she has created. I found this work inspiring because it has a profound beauty about it which appealed to me. The colours are bright and glossy, giving a surreal depth and beauty beyond our normal perception. ‘Organic’ is an accurate description, for these works do look as though they are alive. Eden Overflow (note the title) is perhaps an interpretation of ‘living marble’ growing across and almost covering a shiny black surface.
Samantha Emmons was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1978. She achieved a BA Honours in Art/Design and Religious Studies at King Alfred College, Winchester, in 1999, and an MA in Fine Art Painting at Wimbledon School of Art in 2001. She has been exhibiting her work since 1999 including an exhibition in Melbourne, Australia. Her study of religion might have inspired her work. Certainly many people will be lifted and inspired by such positive, beautiful images.
The title of each of the eleven works on display represents the element it belongs to. The serenity of nature Samantha achieves is more diverse and radiant than our own material world. For example, Nautilus, an underwater Neptunian world, is better than a photograph. It has an abundance of delicate imaginative marine life, some moving in all directions, others still. Such a large still image could never be achieved by a camera or computer program. It has so much depth and is incredibly sharp and clear. As you view it you can see your own reflection in it looking back at you from its watery depths.
If you feel cold viewing Nautilus, Molten-Lustre will warm you and might make you sweat. It is bright red, like a lava flow. The minority green in the image becomes darker and blackened, as if it has been consumed and burnt by the intense heat. Your eyes might start to see all sorts of strange shapes and patterns in the spiralling masses. These have been achieved using layers of oil and varnish of different viscosities being ‘poured’ onto the board or canvas and allowed to dry before another layer is added. The numerous layers create the illusion of depth. In her statement on display within the exhibition the artist describes her technique of ‘pouring paint on’, mainly red and blue/green backgrounds, and using the ‘fluidity’ of the oil paint. The top layers are allowed to flow across in ‘delicately controlled movements’ to produce an image, with ‘forms suspended or growing from the surrounding space’.
Glue, sand, fine grit and wire have been used on some of the works, adding to the surface texture. Minevalla, for example, has prominent ranges on its surface. It is like looking down on a mountain range from an aircraft at 30,000 feet. To give a further three dimensional effect each image is either mounted or started on a raised surface four to eight centimetres deep. All these are unframed so the colour and images curve round or seem to grow around onto these additional surfaces. Some are quite small – approximately 24 cm square. Others are much larger.
The lighting of the exhibition is perfect. Bright spot lights could have caused a refection on the high-gloss surfaces, but this has been prevented by the lights being aimed at the very top of each image, high above eye level. The works are also well arranged in the exhibition space.
Samantha Emmons’ work is like a living kaleidoscope, revealing a detailed, bright and forever-changing, beautiful world.